Top 5 life lessons from mountain biking – Part 4b

by Steve Brock on November 1, 2012

How does the concept or lesson of “Don’t Turn to Turn” apply to travel and life? Here are two thoughts that stand out to me.

First, travel is experiential. As with turning and balancing on a mountain biking, we engage all of us, our bodies and our senses – not just our brains – in ways we don’t at home.

Second, we learn a different form of “balance” when traveling. As with rhythm, in some cases we slow down and relax. On other trips, we’re in a hyper vigilant form of connecting with everything around us. Either way, we come to realize that balance isn’t the elusive end-all/be-all we pursue at home.

On a spiritual level, my friend Jack once challenged me with this powerful thought. Most of us, he noted, seek out balance in life and make it a goal. We try to balance work and family, income and expenses, eating what we want and eating what we should, getting things done and getting rest, etc.

But think about this: Did Jesus lead a balanced life?

Actually, no. His routines in terms of work and sleep and interaction with others were all over the map. He didn’t lead a balanced life at all. But he did lead a faithful life.

Jack’s comments and mountain biking both remind me that we don’t always arrive at where we want to go or be by pursuing the balanced approach. I’m coming to realize that balance isn’t all I thought it was, either on a bike or in life. And if I want to fully engage in riding or living, I need to pursue a sometimes non-intuitive approach that involves every part of me.

Through mountain biking and through this journey we call faith, I’m learning a different way to turn, a different way to stay upright and a better way to enjoy the ride.

How about you?


If you haven’t already done so, check out Lesson 1, Lesson 2Lesson 3, Lesson 4a and Lesson 5

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Top 5 life lessons from mountain biking – Part 4a

by Steve Brock on October 24, 2012

We’ve pedaled our way through life lessons on how faster can be safer, on finding your cadence and on how where you stare is where you will steer. Now it is time for life lesson number 4:

Don’t turn to turn.

On a bicycle, turning is more about leaning and letting your body guide where your bike will move. You have to trust that your body (and subconscious mind) knows how to get you where you want to go.

If you learned to ride a bike as a kid, you’ve probably forgotten how you initially got the bike to balance or turn. If you could un-record years of muscle memory, you’d find that staying upright on a bike is totally non-intuitive. You have to make small movements, turning your front wheel in the direction you’re falling.

You can’t think your way into understanding that process. Your conscious mind will always reject as irrational the very approach to turning that will keep you from leaving bits of skin, clothing and self esteem on the asphalt.

Turning on a mountain bike is an exaggerated version of this form of leaning and balance. You make numerous micro adjustments in ways you don’t consciously realize. Your body learns to turn even if your head is still back there staring at that big rock in the trail and thinking it would be a better idea to maybe walk for a while.

A good mountain biker learns to trust his or her body and to develop a very fluid center of gravity. You have to lean forward going up a hill. On a steep descent, you have to scoot so far back on or even past your seat that I’ve heard of riders getting tire burns on their rear end.

A sharp turn could have you leaning almost horizontally and you’ll be all over the place shifting left and right to balance on narrow “skinnies” or slick root-infested trails. Mountain bikers even refer to the idea of “dancing with the bike” where the rider and the machine are like Fred and Ginger swirling across the floor. Good riders learn that balance and turning become easier and smoother when you trust and move with your partner (your bike) in ways that don’t always make sense at first, but become a part of you over time.

So how does this apply to travel or to life? I’ll share my thoughts next time, but you tell me. Seriously, what are some ways you see issues of balance and turning applied to your own life or trips?

To be continued…

If you haven’t already done so, check out Lesson 1, Lesson 2Lesson 3Lesson 4b and Lesson 5

If you found this interesting, why don't you share it with others?